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Europa House one-day event opens doors to all

by Chiho Iuchi

Staff Writer

The Delegation of the EU to Japan will open its premises to the public during the Europa House Open Day event on May 25.

Since the delegation moved from its previous location in the Sanbancho area of Chiyoda Ward to its new premises in the Minami-Azabu district of Minato Ward in August 2011, Europa House has served not only as offices and residences, but also as a venue for various events to showcase European culture.

On the sidelines of EU-Japan Friendship Week, during which a wide range of activities and events are held across Japan celebrating relations between Japan and Europe, the first-ever Europa House Open Day was held last May.

“The purpose of the event was to show the Japanese public, as well as the expat community who live around here, what is behind the closed facade of this building called Europa House,” said Eric Hamelinck of the Press, Public and Cultural Affairs section of the delegation.

Rather than simply showing the inside of the building as a modern architectural structure, the event was held “in a very open and friendly way almost like inviting the neighbors” to one’s home, Hamelinck recounted. “On this special occasion, we wanted to show the diversity of European culture.”

There were cultural events such as music, dance and other performances, as well as a sampling of European products, especially food and drink, such as beer, wine and chocolates.

“We did not exactly know how many people to expect. We would have been happy with 400 people, but in fact, we received 1,200 visitors!” Hamelinck said. “A major part of the visitors last year was families with children, often with grandparents as well.”

Following on from this success, this year’s open day event will be organized with a wider variety of attractions.

During the event, visitors will be entertained with various examples of European music and dance. The Viennese waltz and quadrille in full dress performed by the Japanese group Kleine Krone, which charmed the audiences last year, will start at 1:15 p.m. In addition, there will be performances of traditional Polish dance (12:15 p.m.); Romanian pan flute and guitar by Japanese performer Susumu Otsuka (2:30 p.m.); Greek folk dance by Japanese group Kefi (3:15 p.m.); Gypsy jazz by European musician Paul Florea and friends (4:15 p.m.); and Bulgarian folk dance by a Japanese-European group led by Shiro Ishizaka (5 p.m.).

“When you really reflect on culture over the long term, it is better to show traditional folk music and there can be a large variety,” Hamelinck explained.

Visitors will also be able to experience culinary and craft traditions at nine booths and stalls with a variety of food and drink, such as wine, beer and sweets, as well as examples of European handicraft, such as small wood carvings.

Europa House Open Day is a rare opportunity to enter a diplomatic mission, where the entire 65,700-sq.-meter ground floor (excluding the administration building) will be open to the public. This is also a great chance to enjoy a wide variety of European culture under one roof.

Europa House Open Day will take place on May 25 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at Europa House, 4-6-28 Minami-Azabu, Minato Ward, Tokyo. The venue is a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Hiroo Station. Admission is free. For more information, call the Delegation of the EU to Japan at (03) 5422-6001 or visit www.euinjapan.jp/en

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